Ideas for Learners Promoting Literacy, Inquiry, and Meaningful Learning Experiences

Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman


Book Summary

14-year-old Catherine keeps a diary, recording her worries (will her father marry her to someone horrible?), troubles (the other ladies are angry because she used their clothing to keep her birds warm), and humorous observations from the year 1290. 
Catherine, Called Birdy book cover
Catherine, Called Birdy

Book Review

The title of this book is somewhat disappointing, but the story is not. The cover does not do justice to the humor throughout this book; Catherine is a little like a mix of Anne (of Green Gables), Ramona (the Pest), and a feminist activist for animal rights.  The language in the book may be off-putting to readers initially, but Catherine's hopes and worries are understandable to readers in a much later century. Her reflections on politics, religion, justice, love, and individuality are especially funny since they are couched in more formal English.

Note: Study of this book will likely be more successful with students if a knowledgeable person leads a small group discussion or read-aloud. The unfamiliar language patterns alienate many would-be independent readers of this book, who miss out on a good story.

Topics and Themes for this book:

  • Medieval England
  • Humor
  • Finding Your Voice
  • Rebellion Against Convention
  • Animal Rights

Discussion Questions for this book:

The best discussion questions, of course, are generated by and contemplated by readers. These questions are designed to avoid major spoilers about the book, and to provide a starting point for teachers, parents, and student reading groups.

**Questions Coming Soon**

If you liked this book, you might also like . . .

Princess Academy book cover
Princess Academy
Keeping Corner book cover
Keeping Corner
The Witch of Blackbird Pond book cover
The Witch of Blackbird Pond